Posted by: forgingahead | September 21, 2009

Tri for Real Race Report

I had so much fun on Sunday at the Tri for Real race in Pleasanton!

Weatherpeople all around the Bay Area were predicting a huge heat wave so I was super happy to find the city doused in fog when the alarm went off at 4:30 a.m.

Fog in SF could mean a cooler start to the day inland and that was all good with me.

I just love arriving at a triathlon in the dark and seeing all the miners lamps bobbing along. And the buzz of activity as people wheel their bikes to the transition area while balancing their gear in bags ranging from official tri-bags to Trader Joe’s canvas bags.

By the time I arrived at 6:00 a.m. the racks were pretty well packed out but some serious racers with super fast bikes and wetsuits made space for me. I would be swimming sans-wetsuit in the balmy waters.

I had a few nerves flitting about in my tummy. I dealt with them by telling myself that this really was just an extended training session. Albeit with a bunch of other people and the benefit of a closed bike course and cold water available on the run.

What a beautiful morning! Clear and on the *every so slightly* chilly side of warm. Brisk enough that I got into the water to warm up.

I was in the last wave (wave 6) so I had plenty of time to watch others swim the 700 yard course. My plan was start at the back of the pack and just do a good solid swim. And it went really well!

I swam next to a woman in a red cap who was doing breastroke most of the time. She could see exactly where she was going so it worked well to sight off her (I had forgotten to line up the buoy with something tall behind that I could see from the water).

I was laughing at myself because I was clearly swimming super slow. I mean, she was doing breaststroke and I was doing freestyle and we were going the same pace!

I also had time to notice the leaves on the trees on shore that were turning color and even give one of the lifeguards on a surfboard a smile for cheering us on. I think the swim took 15+ minutes (no timing chips).

That’s definitely the first time I’ve been so in the moment during a race and it felt great.

My transition was good – not super speedy but respectable. And I’d remembered to put my bike in the easy gear to deal with the hill start.

The bike was two 9.5 mile loops. The first loop I was constantly being past by serious competitors from the earlier waves who were on their second loop.

This was a draft-legal race and I tried to grab onto a train but no way. These people were booking!

My first loop was a little slow but I was feeling strong again on the second one and I finished the bike in under an hour. That’s about a 20 mph pace!!

Change my shoes. Put on a hat and my shuffle and drink some water. Off on the 4 mile run.

This part was hard. I really just jogged along the whole way and my legs were whining the entire time. Thank goodness for the music…it helped drown out the complaints from my muscles.

By this time it was getting close to 10 a.m. and the heat/exposure was starting to take its toll. I was running with a soaked bandana tied around my neck and I doused my head with ice water at each station.

By mile 3 I started to get goosebumps. Feeling chills in the heat is a sign of the onset of heat stress injury. I’d been drinking plenty of water so I think it was simply exposure.

I must confess that I biked and ran in a sleeveless top. This from the girl who wears long-sleeved shirts All. The. Time.

What was I thinking? I was thinking I’d finish fast enough to avoid this issue and that I’d ultimately stay cooler with a lighter top.

Oh well, lesson learned. And no serious harm. I recovered quickly with no residual effects.

I’d gotten passed in the last moments of the See Jane Run race last year and was NOT going to let that happen again.

I glanced back about 100 yards from the finish line and sure enough someone was trying to gain on me.

No way. I put on a burst of speed and crossed the line alone. Triumphant!

The stats…

700 yard swim ~ 15 minutes
19 mile bike ~ 1 hour
4 mile run ~ 45 minutes

My buddy Elieen Swanson won the race! Go Eileen!

I’m officially a fan of triathlons at the Shadow Cliffs Park in Pleasanton!



  1. What an awesome race – I love that you saw the colored leaves on the trees while swimming!!

  2. Great description of the race. I felt like I was swimming along with you! Good that you were more aware of the heat this time;-)

  3. Congratulations!!! What a wonderful race.

  4. Wow, great race for you! I’m inspired, tri’s seem like so much work but you were awesome. I love the mention of the lady in the red cap…lucky that you had her in sight! Do you ever feel rushed and as a result, nervous while you compete in a tri? So many transitions! How about when you compete at dressage? Which is easier for you? Sorry for the questions, just curious!

    • Meg, I love questions! Bring ’em on. I’ve only done a few tri’s and was nervous and rushed in the first two. That’s why I made such an effort to be zen in this one. And it was great!

      I wished I competed in Dressage. We don’t have a truck and trailer and shows are so darn expensive (hauling, boarding, class fees) so we haven’t traveled down that road yet. But one day! I remain hopeful. And I bet I’m even MORE nervous competing with the horse.

  5. draft-legal?? crazy

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